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I've got a laptop that I'd like to hook-up in the cab of my '03 QC and have just the power cord for the laptop coming out of the dash or something. I know I'd have to install a power inverter but not too sure how to make it all come together after that. Any ideas or pics if you have already done this.
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A basic inverter should be plenty. Just look at the input requirements of the power supply and add a bit of margin. It's unlikely a laptop will require more than 200 watts. I think I would NOT recommend running 110VAC through the dash, though. I have my inverter on the transmission tunnel snugged up against the base of the console. An extension cord runs to the back seat. I use it to run my laptop and camera charging systems.
I have plugged in a basic, walmart type inverter into the power outlet inside my armrest/console many times and used it to power my laptop and charge cell phones, etc. has always worked just fine. Just make sure, if you hide an inverter somewhere, that you put it where it can vent off heat.
Depending on the brand of you laptop, you may have a mobile power-brick available to you. Being that its an older laptop, ebay may be a source for you.
I know the dells we used to use at work here only required the appropriate plug to go into the power brick (It was removable) to switch it from 120v to 12v. I'm pretty sure Lenovo has the same thing, we don't use them though.
Realistically you 'should avoid' an inverter on a PC/Laptop. They create a square wave instead of a proper A/C current and it can potentially damage your laptop, although I'm not sure I've ever seen one in my years as a systems analyst.
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I have used on for about 4 years to power my laptop and never had a problem ($50 plug cigarette type) never had a problem. A guy at work said something about the square power wave they put out and found many newer ones that do a modified signal wave but his problem is he's trying to power a gaming laptop that needs 2.25 amps we have found a few for a couple hundred dollars but a regular laptop will be fine with a little 200w inverter
Thanks for the responses they've been great. I have a couple more questions.
I have a Wal-Mart inverter that I currently use but it squeals and shuts down if the trucks engine is off. I'm wondering if that's due to being plugged into a power port where the wires going to power are 16 to 18 GA and if I wired it directly to the battery with heavier GA wire it would stop squealing?
Mine will do the same thing when I don't have the motor on I think that it doesn't see the power input it wants and shuts down to keep from damaging its self or what ever is plugged into it like a surge protector